Cutting Through The Crap

Friday, June 3, 2011

Survey Says...


Somehow or other, a major university has found my blog and included me in a survey for some sort of research purposes. It wasn't entirely random, in that within the survey it referred to the blog by name, and the questions were largely about politics. More significantly, it asked about my reasons for blogging, what I hoped to accomplish: change the world or delude myself. Stuff like that. Maybe not exactly in those terms.

Before taking the survey, my first reaction was to be somewhat flattered: my little blog in a very tiny corner of the blogosphere somehow came up on someone's screen in what might be considered a serious way. Recognition, it was. Fatefully, fairly flying, the feeling of flattery fizzled fast, faded fully as I finally focused on the fateful fortune foretold in the field. Of view. It made me ask myself, not by any means for the first time, why? What's the point?

I'm not one to kid myself, or so I've convinced myself. I've never had illusions or delusions about the resonance of this blog for more than a handful of people. Mostly, I've felt that, at best, it's a release valve for my frustrations. But this time around, the questions have made me wonder if I'm accomplishing exactly the opposite. Driving myself crazy by paying attention.

Given the choice between beating my head on my keyboard and tuning it all out, pretending, as says the one magnetic ribbon that I've ever had on my car, that it's all okay, I'm starting to think the latter might be healthier. Offload my brain, drain it like a clogged sewer, let it all leak out until I've become completely uninformed, like a teabagger; except that unlike them, once I achieved the proper level of stupidity I'd STFU. (To recognize arriving at the null point, though, I'd have to hope for a certain level of self-awareness not evident in teabaggRs, as I descended into blithe ignorance.)

Really. Being informed means reading the latest stupid statement from Michelle Bachmann or Sarah Palin, seeing the latest cynical and destructive move by Republican leadership (and, yes, from the occasional D), recognizing that a hate-filled and pustular purveyor of perfidious putrefaction like Rush Limbaugh, that a stupid puppet like Sean Hannity, that an insane self-aggrandizing paranoiac like Glenn Beck can be considered newsworthy by the same media that follows Sarah's bus like Pavlovian pups, and can be considered legitimate opinionators by teabaggers -- by anyone! It means recognizing the descent of our political process into paralysis while our electorate succumbs to the relentless stream of propaganda from the right-wing media and to the lazy thinking that is its inevitable and already obvious result. It means living with a constant sense of dread, witnessing the glib and selfish as they destroy our country from within, in the name of lower taxes (laughing off the facts) and hatred of everyone who isn't exactly like them. Education, infrastructure, budgetary sanity, research, clean energy, health care, help for those in need: the foundations of our country, going and gone. While chanting about our exceptionalism, these people are ensuring that we'll become exceptionally inferior. Nothing short of willful and total disengagement -- certainly not blogging (but maybe drugs?) -- can possibly counter the painful effects of awareness.

I suppose I should envy people who can watch a buffoon like Beck or Bachmann, a self-centered, proudly and resolutely uninformed, grievance-peddling media whore like Palin, and be impressed. They've managed, despite all the problems we face, to have emptied their minds of all discordance, filled them back with firmly-held damn-the-facts beliefs, and closed their skulls around it like a gift-box, like homemade jams bubble-wrapped to suffer no impact from the outside world, mailed to themselves.

See what I mean? It's poison to me. It's reality, but it's poison. Saying it doesn't help. Rather than calming, the writing of it only intensifies the despair. Every day, there's more. Another display of idiocy, and another, and another. The venality of our politicians, the failures of our media, the gullibility of so many of our citizens, the laziness of thought, the selfishness of their rationalizations, the hate in their hearts.

I've given money, I'll probably give more; I've written letters, signed petitions, helped make a video about health care reform. Convinced it's even more useless and delusional, I've not grabbed a sign and marched, haven't joined organizations. So I've blogged. And now, having been asked by a presumably respectable group of people, I'm wondering why, again. I know -- I've always known -- it's meaningless in any functional sense. If there's nothing I can do that can change anything, if the mutable decay continues apace, and if sentience causes only pain, what the hell is the point?

Maybe it's time to stop caring, put down the newspapers, shut down my shiny new Macbook Pro with solid-state hard drive, and get outside more, admire beauty like this, turn everything else off until the new seasons of Dexter and Justified and Californication.


9 comments:

Jim said...

Since your posts express many of own sentiments, although, more eloquently, I enjoy reading them.

That said, I also share your depressing fears for our future. In the last three years and for the first time in my life I have taken the time to express my views to my representatives on various issues and seen no positive result.

I also seem to have only friends and acquaintances who express a right wing point of view. Up till a few years ago I ignored their comments, opinions and ignorant forwarded emails. Since then I decided to offer thoughtful responses challenging them to think about their opinions and to research the information they gobble down from the various media and those emails.

The end result is no apparent impact on public policy or those friends and acquaintances points of view.

Given that I have also considered tuning out.

I am dissatisfied with many of the things that Obama has done or failed to do but having said that he was elected after all which was no small feat and it would seem to suggest that things may not be quite as bad as we believe.

NikkiK said...

I do hope you won't quit blogging. I live in such a narrow-minded world that it is only through social media and blogs that I find people who share my point of view - and you provide links and sources to support your arguments. Knowledge that keeps me (somewhat) sane in the office of 20-odd people where I am the only one who leans to the left.
I feel the same helplessness you mention - I have donated money, or passed on links, but I have never held up a sign or marched. my corner of the world is so far (physically) from everything that it seems futile.
So please do not quit!

JB said...

As a self-described American patriot, I read Dr Sid with wonder and fascination at his beliefs and traditions, which mirror mine, however, often diverge. On the simple fact that our beloveded nation is headed in the wrong direction, we completely agree. On WHAT is the right direction, we often clash. There is no question that America can never return to the days of my dad, born in 1904, lived to 1994...of picnics and ice cream socials in the Park. Mass murders and hostage teens in the backyard were not the norm..no matter what the media tells us. Evil has thrived and in the year my dad was born, only 233 murders occurred in the USA...today, that is six months in Oakland,CA.
Nor can it continue to be a nation in which Memorial day brings riots to Miami beaches and we are engaged in THREE overseas shooting wars without congressional declarations.
We are descending into what we all call "The Third World Nation"...in which enclaves of haves live separate from have-nots...regardless of cause,education or drug moms. I see only one solution,and that is FOCUS HARD and put the elements in play HERE AT HOME, rather than NATO bombing Tripoli or removing Tin Pot dictators that time will remove by the people. Not fortress America, but place our precious resources, men, women and money to build back our country before we give it away. Just a thought, but like Dr. Schwab and commentators before me, I feel powerless and rudderless and unheard by those who would lead us.

Cory said...

Dang near three years ago I was sidelined by a tumor inside of my spinal cord. I’ve lost my career and my American happy-go-lucky middle class way of life and a few more things. Life has changed in ways I’d never considered, some good and some not so good. It’s been a challenge, but all goes on, all is not lost, and surprisingly, much has been gained. Having lots of extra time on my hands has allowed me to more intimately pay attention to politics and how it affects my everyday living. Holy F#@king Shit, I’m talking about an intimate education in our health care system and with medical insurance! The point being, each of us has a slightly different perspective depending on our circumstances. Having said all that, I too am appalled, dismayed, angry, disappointed, depressed, and amazed with our politicians’ ignorance and stupidity- especially those dandy right wingers. However, I’ve realized and come to a point whereby if I, for one more hour, or second, let these political bastards affect my overall cheery and happy demeanor, I’m powerless to help myself, much less anyone else- and the bastards have won. In my case, a balance of perspective is crucial to my very life. These politicians, wannabes, and those who give them power, exist in a different world than mine or yours, in fact exist in a different world than most aliens! Why let these bastards get you down- is a question I ask myself every morning I read the news… they are not worth the bother. So sip my coffee, read your blog, and I press on. And Sid, so should you. Illigitimi Non Carborundum – for fucks sake!!

Anonymous said...

Dexter is Da Man!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Frank

JB said...

Whereas I love Dr.Sid's thoughts, and the man himself as a best trusted friend, it is appropriate and wise for his and all of OUR mental and physical healths that we take some of this world less seriously.
For example: my son, John Jr, CEO of his own earthquake techtonics company, said, "Dad, I know a guy who got a DUI and started smoking again after the San Jose Sharks lost their bid for the Stanley Cup."
A couple posts ago is the real deal...spinal cord tumor brought absolute reality to a man...suffering, payments, pain and focused him on what really matters. My heart and yes, prayers, go out to him and his family.
I have similar jabs and deep stings in my (our) life with Jeannie. I would say that concentrating on stuff I might be able to control is wise and enjoying the beauty of today, in whatever matter you may find it, will be incredibly rewarding.
But if Venting and Blogging helps, so be it. As Isaiah said, "A Voice Crying in the Wilderness."
76 and counting...have seen it all, believe me and I understand all viewpoints. JB

SeaSpray said...

I think there has to be balance and it is all too easy to to let these things get to us. Plus ...there just seems to be so much more calamity around the world and in our country.

Everything seems so extreme.

My faith helps keep me centered ...but ..then I sometimes get off track with that and put more emphasis on something else. I just know that when I am God centered ...perspectives seem more balanced. But that is me. Everyone has their own coping mechanisms. Blogging is cathartic.

Although, I have wondered ..if writing reinforces the negative that I am trying to get away from? I suppose if I feel a release afterward then it is cathartic. If things feel worked out ..it's cathartic. But with politics ...it all seems so futile at times.

You have people that enjoy your writing ..kindred spirits and that must feel good.

I just wrote a post about my watching sitcoms lately and needing to laugh more. Also about a Jewish Bra. :) I have bailed on the news lately. Too much destruction and a famine hitting N Korea and so much. I also feel discouraged with all the senseless and even sickening crime. Is it me ...or are people of all ages more violent and sick with the things they do. :(

So ...I think we all need more joy ..more laughter and more peace in our lives ..and love. We have to be responsible and pay attention to politics, etc ..but need to find balance.

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

Anonymous said...

Sid,

as a surgeon, you did not quit operating because you were unable to cure cancer, or prevent the myriad ills that afflict humanity - you could only do what you could, one patient at a time.

You had an impact, you made a difference and you still do - one post at a time - and that has an impact far beyond what you perceive it to be.

The lives you saved, the pain you relieved moved forward in time with lasting consequences far beyond your present perception.

Lives continued, children were born, marriages were preserved and countless opportunities came to be because of your timely intervention - one patient at a time.

I, and I am quite sure, many others read your words and pass them on to like minded others.

What you think and say are valuable beyond measure, so keep thinking and writing - please!

Your work is now to continue the good fight with one post a time; the work is there, and even though you cannot do it all, still it must be done.

You are not alone in your work; we need men like you. Don't let us down.

For the rest, the pain the sorrow and despair, I offer the words of Siddhartha Gautama - Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world.

Regards,

EugeneInSanDiego

Sid Schwab said...

Nice, Eugene. Thanks.